From 28-30 October, I'll be speaking at the Battle of Ideas in London. I'll take part in two sessions, both broadly focused on the ethics of biological modification. The first is on Saturday and are titled 'Designer people: is technology making us less human?' (Sun, 1230pm, Lecture Theatre 1) and 'Smart Drugs: Magic Bullet or Cheating Ourselves?' (Sun, 345pm, Lecture Theatre 1)

Here's a brief outline of the programme with other speakers:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday 12 August 2011
Media Contact: Patrick Hayes 07782 133399 / 020 7269 9222
7th Battle of Ideas Festival Programme Announced
The Institute of Ideas today unveils the 7
featuring a line-up of 350 speakers participating in 75 debates on society’s big issues and
unresolved questions (see:
The main weekend festival, held at the Royal College of Art, London on October 29-30, showcases
keynote debates entitled:
Battle against the fates; Profiting Responsibly? Business in the Big Society; Creativity and Curiosity:
do we make stuff up or find it out? Has tolerance gone too far? Loyalty in an age of whistleblowing and Wikileaks; Is individualism bad for society?
Seven strands run through the format of the festival weekend, allowing in-depth examination of a
subject. They are entitled:
Battle for the World, Battle for Morality, Food Fight, Society Wars, Battle for our Brains,
Reassessing... Politics and Sporting Contests.
In addition there are a large number of standalone discussions on subjects including:
The Tea Party – defenders of the American Dream?    Life off Earth: are the aliens out there?
Burlesque: female empowerment or posh stripping? Islamophobia: the new racism or liberal angst?
Ain’t misbehaving - do British children need the army to sort them out?   Smart drugs: magic bullet
or cheating ourselves?    Olympic expectations: can't see the games for the legacy?   Through a glass
darkly: why do atheists love the King James Bible?
Commenting on the launch of the festival programme, Claire Fox, Institute of Ideas director, said:
‘In a period in which we are seeing hugely important cultural shifts, from nihilistic rioters looting and
burning up their own communities to many longstanding institutions – including the police, media
and political parties – hollowing out and being called into question, never has the need for rational
debate been more important.’
‘The Battle of ideas festival 2011 will provide two days of the kind of high-level, thought provoking
public debate that is currently urgently needed. We aim to avoid lazy platitudes and to interrogate
what is really happening in society both in the UK and internationally. Free speech is allowed!’
Confirmed speakers at the Battle of Ideas festival 2011 include: David Aaronovitch, columnist, The Times; author, Voodoo Histories; Anne Atkins novelist, columnist
and broadcaster; regular contributor to Radio 4's Thought for the Day; Simon Baron-Cohen, director,
Autism Research Centre, University of Cambridge; author, Zero Degrees of Empathy; Daniel BenAmi, finance and economics journalist; author Ferraris for All: in defence of economic progress and
Cowardly Capitalism; Melvin Burgess, award winning children's author, novels include Nicholas
Dane, Junk and Kill All Enemies; John Cooper, leading criminal and human rights barrister; regular
columnist, The Times and Observer; editor, Criminal Bar Quarterly; Claire Fox, director, Institute of
Ideas; panellist, BBC Radio 4's Moral Maze; Frank Furedi, professor of sociology, University of Kent,
Canterbury; author, Wasted, Politics of Fear and On Tolerance: in defence of moral independence;
Clare Gerada, GP; chair, Royal College of General Practitioners; Tom Holland, award-winning
historian; author, Rubicon: the triumph and tragedy of the Roman Republic; winner, 2007 Classical
Association Prize; Simon Jenkins, columnist, Guardian; chairman, National Trust; author, A short
history of England; Irma Kurtz, writer; broadcaster; agony aunt, Cosmopolitan Magazine;
author, About Time: growing old disgracefully; Philippe Legrain, advisor to José Manuel Barroso,
President of the European Commission; author, Aftershock: reshaping the world economy after the
crisis; Kenan Malik, writer and broadcaster; presenter of Analysis, BBC Radio 4; author, The Quest
for the Moral Compass (forthcoming);  Paul Mason, broadcaster; author, Financial Meltdown and
the End of the Age of Greed; Andy Miah, director, Creative Futures Research Centre, University of
West Scotland; Tim Montgomerie, co-editor, Conservative Home; co-founder,; member, advisory board, Centre for Social Justice; Ruth Padel, poet
and writer; author Darwin - A Life in Poems; Tariq Ramadan, professor of contemporary Islamic
studies, University of Oxford; author,The Quest for Meaning: developing a philosophy of pluralism;
Jeffrey Rosen, professor of law, George Washington University; legal affairs editor, The New
Republic; author, The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries that Defined America; Brendan
O’Neill, editor, spiked; William Saletan, journalist, Slate; author, Bearing Right: how conservatives
won the abortion war; John Sutherland, Emeritus Lord Northcliffe Professor of English Literature,
University College London; author, The Lives of the Novelists; George Szirtes, reader in creative
writing, UEA; poet; editor; translator; author, The Burning of the Books and Other Poems; Raymond
Tallis,  author, thirty medical and non-medical books including Aping Mankind: Neuromania,
Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity; Gáspár Miklos Tamás, visiting professor, Central
European University; president, Green Left; author, Les Idoles de la Tribu; Tom Watt, actor, writer
and broadcaster: best known as Lofty from EastEnders, David Beckham’s ghostwriter and Fighting Talk’s
Champion of Champions 2011; Martin Wolf, associate editor and chief economics
commentator, Financial Times; author, Fixing Global Finance; Zoe Williams, columnist, The
Guardian; Cathy Young, contributing editor Reason; and many more.
Press passes for the weekend are available and a wide range of Battle of Ideas speakers are
available for comment. Contact: Patrick Hayes 07782 133399
Notes to editors:
1) The 7
Battle of Ideas festival weekend is taking place on the weekend of 29-30 October at the Royal
College of Art, London. For the full programme and list of confirmed speakers, visit: Battle Satellite events are organised with a range of national and international partners taking place
throughout October and November. Full details of the programme can be viewed online here:
3) Press passes for all events are available and a wide range of festival speakers are available for media
comment on issues being discussed at the Battle of Ideas before and during the event. Contact: 07782 133399 / 020 7269 9222